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Moroccan designer's embroidery school revives fading art

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/3/2017 By YOUSSEF AIT AKDIM, Associated Press
In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

SALE, Morocco (AP) — It is a school of last chances, both for its students and for the fading art that they are learning, stitch by stitch.

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi poses for a portrait in her showroom in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi poses for a portrait in her showroom in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Each of the 13 young Moroccans now studying under fashion designer Fadila El Gadi had dropped out of school, whether through boredom or academic troubles. But now they willingly spend nine hours a day in this free program, learning the traditional art of Moroccan embroidery — as well as the traditional academic subjects they once left behind.

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery under the supervision of a teacher, Sandra Charteau, in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery under the supervision of a teacher, Sandra Charteau, in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Six girls and seven boys, ranging in age from 13 to 18, start the day at 7 a.m., taking turns making breakfast for the group. The day ends at 4 p.m. The training is expected to last two years, at the end of which the hope is full-time work.

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, dresses designed by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi are displayed in her showroom, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, dresses designed by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi are displayed in her showroom, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Bent over an embroidery frame, 18-year-old Nadia is among El Gadi's most gifted students and is already making a little money outside class.

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

"I'm comfortable in this field. I would love to be able to do it professionally like Fadila," she said.

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, a pattern is displayed next to a half-finished cloth, at an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, a pattern is displayed next to a half-finished cloth, at an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

El Gadi launched the school in her hometown of Sale, a city neighboring the capital, Rabat, because "I haven't forgotten where I came from."

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi inspects dresses displayed in her showroom in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi inspects dresses displayed in her showroom in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Embroidery made El Gadi's career and she hopes the same will happen with the children at her school. Sandra Charteau, a professional embroiderer, comes twice a week to teach — although Charteau cannot speak Moroccan Arabic, the children are learning French and eventually English as part of their lesson plan.

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

El Gadi hopes the children will ultimately be able to establish themselves, either as artisans or in haute couture.

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy) © The Associated Press In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, children learn embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

"Demand is high for craftsmen. I myself am always looking for trained staff for my own studio," she said. "If we managed to have funding so they could each have their own little workshops, that would be really amazing."

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, a boy learns embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

In this photo dated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, a boy learns embroidery in an informal school run by Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, in Sale, near Rabat, Morocco. A globally successful Moroccan fashion designer returned to her hometown and founded an unusual sewing school aimed at helping poor, troubled children find a path, in a country where youth unemployment is high and the lure of extremism lurks. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
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